I do a lot of work with network devices, I like to test them at my desk but I don't like having to go to the server room or having large network devices hanging around in the limited space on my desk.
My solution? Shrink it down!
Step 1: What Is a Network Rack
The image shows what most people think of when they hear network rack. It is a cabinet or cabinets that hold network switches, routers and servers and of course heaps of cables.
These devices are standardized at 19" wide and are supported by bolting the L-bracket on each side of the unit to the perforated rack on each side.
The perforated rack allows the system to be fully adjustable while accommodating devices of different sizes (measured in U's).
Step 2: What Do I Really Need
In reality all I needed was an 8 port gigabit switch and a wireless access point on my desk, if the project gets any bigger than this I am into moving to the server room anyway.
The devices I have are matched in size and are only 150mm (6") wide.
I had tonnes of meccano hanging around so I thought this was a perfect marriage.
Step 3: Rack Construction
I started out by grabbing all of the bits I thought I'd need, this was an on the fly construction without any plans or instructions (queue Lego men singing "Everything is Awesome")
I started by setting out the bottom rail, I added plates to keep the frame square and kept the adjustment slots to the outside (this is where the uprights will go later and I wanted a but of adjustment)
Once I was sure I was covered for the width of my devices I continued with construction.
I built a base frame, then added the uprights and then some diagonal braces.
I also added a temporary top rail to keep everything in place during construction.
Note: I left the bolts loose on the uprights to keep them easy to adjust later.
Step 4: Add Supports
I used superglue to fit L-Brackets to the sides of each device, this mimics the brackets on the 19" big brothers.
I also happened to have a 7 port USB hub that was the perfect width so I threw that in too.
I used superglue as I didn't want to drill and both the devices and the protruding bolt may have caused issues with fixing to the front rack.
I bolted each device in and removed the top support.
Step 5: Keep It Tidy
I needed a network cable to go between the switch and the network access point.
All of the cables I had were 5m+ so I took a damaged one and trimmed it down making a 100mm cable. This was nice and neat.
Step 6: Power It Up and Enjoy
Once everything is set, make all your connections, find a good place to put it and power it on.
Now I have a little network test area all of my own on my desk.